A Service of Geographic Enterprises

Request Demo


What Is Core Based Statistical Area?

HERE Mapping Resources core based statistical areaThe US Office of Management and Budget utilizes different terms to define geographical locations. One of those terms is a core based statistical area. A core based statistical area is the county or counties included in and surrounding an urban center that contains at least 10,000 people.

The term is a catchphrase designed to simplify the census. A core based statistical area includes metropolitan statistical areas and micropolitan statistical areas. There are 362 metropolitan areas in the United States and 560 micropolitan areas.

A modern metropolitan statistical area has a population of over 50,000. On the other hand, a micropolitan area has less than 50,000 people in it and more than 10,000.

Before the 2000 census, the term metropolitan statistical area existed, but it had a different definition. Not every previous metro area is still considered one and not every current one, used to be one. The terms are not interchangeable.

There are multiple ways an area may have changed:

  • Addition or Removal of a County(ies)
  • Merging of Previous Areas
  • Splitting Previous Areas
  • Switching to a Micropolitan Area

Each core based statistical area is assigned a three-digit code that is used as an identifier. The codes are unique in the United States and not reused. Numerous core based statistical areas are consolidated into combined statistical areas.

To qualify as a core based statistical area, the locality has to see at least 25% of its workforce commute in from the outlying areas.

There are currently 229 different core based statistical areas in the US, including Puerto Rico. Twelve of the codes are assigned to Puerto Rico.

The idea behind the creation of the core based statistical area was to simplify the terms used in the census. Classification names are supposed to be clear and define a logical space. Before the CBSA was announced, there were many different terms used to describe regions.

Understanding the definition of a core based statistical area will help you better comprehend the data on US censuses and other information released by the Office of Management and Budget. You also gain a better understanding of the population of the United States and how it is geographically laid out. Those looking for further information can always visit the US Census Bureau website:

To learn more about how GeoMetrx can help your business successfully use Core Based Statistical Area information to increase sales, contact us.